Archive for October, 2008

Where are your roots planted?

One day I was walking in a park close by my house.  The park bordered a lake and was a peaceful place to contemplate the events of life that were going on around me.  As I turned a corner on the path before me, I came upon a very large sweet gum tree that had fallen in a storm the night before.

After several days of soaking rain, the ground around the great tree had apparently become saturated and could no longer hold the roots.  The extra pressure of the storm winds were too much to bear and the tree came crashing down.

As I stood at the base of this tree, I stretched my arms above my head as far as I could reach.  I still lacked a few feet to reach the top of the root base that now was exposed to the world.  The mass of the old tree was much more that I had imagined.

As the tree fell, along it’s 35 – 40 foot length, several smaller trees became victims.  The great weight of this once mighty tree, bent broke and completely buried the other trees that attempted to cradle its fall.  The destruction before me was massive.

The noise must have been incredible.  Snapping branches, sheering tree trunks, groaning to hold the weight of the larger tree to no avail.  When it was finished the forest swallowed up the noise and all that was left was the scene before me.

I examined the tree to gain an insight into the event of the night before and soon came across a small holly tree.  This holly tree had grown up near the base of the great gum, it’s roots intertwined with those of the gum expectantly, providing some level of security as a result of the massive root structure of it’s senior neighbor.  When the sweet gum fell, the holly tree was no match and was uprooted along with the larger tree.

The hapless holly tree had settled in and become comfortable along side the great tree.  At first struggling to find a footing, later securely intertwined the roots of the holly found nutrition from the falling leaves and the droppings of the birds that nested within the branches safely removed from the predators that searched the forest floor.  The holly found a sense of strength in it’s solid footing and shelter from the harsher elements that occasionally disrupted the silence of the forest.

All was good with the holly, but it paid a price for it’s comfort.  It’s ability to grow tall and impressive was limited by the amount of nutrients it could steal away from the thirsty gum and the amount of sunlight that could reach the holly was limited by the massive branches and multitude of leaves that spread out above it.  All that considered, it was a good life and a beautiful place to be, until the night of that storm.

Like the holly, we as fathers, often seek out the safe place to be.  We become content with our jobs, our marriages, our homes, and our friends.  Life is good for us.  We accept the lot we are left with and explain away our insecurities with our tolerance of the mundane.  We accept our relationships with others and don’t fully question their motives or their theology.  After all, we live in the greatest country in the world, nothing bad is going to happen here.  We weather the occasional squall and feed the occasional predator, sometimes even helping them to reach the lower branches of the tree beside us so they can reach the unsuspecting birds on whose lives we feed.  It is what it is, we say.

One day though, we are confronted by the greatest storm of our lives.  The winds whip and we bend.  Some of our leaves are stripped off, but it appears we will survive yet again, but this time something is different.  The ground around our roots is not solid.  We feel the moving of the roots of the great tree that we have come to put our faith in.  Surely the great tree is solid, after all, its roots have imbedded in soil in places we could never even consider.  But the movement becomes more frequent.  We begin to feel insecure in our own footing.  Perhaps we could hold on to the ground below our feet and the roots of the great tree would just slip over our heads leaving us securely planted, but it is not to be.  We have put our faith in the wrong thing.  We have intertwined our lives in what we thought was never changing. 

Too late we realize we are going down with the great tree.  There is nothing we can do.  We pray for solid ground but there is none.  We are helpless against the great storm.

Fathers, be mindful of where you put your faith.  We think our country, our company, our friends will always look out for us.  They will protect us.  In reality, in the end, there is only one in whom you can put your trust. 

Isaiah 47:15 tells us “And all your friends, those with whom you have done business since childhood, will slip away and disappear, unable to help”

We must put our faith in Jesus, and not in the things around us.  they will always disappoint you.  You have a family to protect, that is your calling.  Assure your feet are in solid ground and not intertwined in something that is perishable.  In the end, we will be standing when all else has fallen.

En servicio como padre



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